Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, is a surprisingly fun city to visit. I’ve been to Pennsylvania numerous times over the years, but I’ve only ever visited Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, so when I had the opportunity to take a spontaneous trip to Harrisburg, I jumped at the chance. After all, I have a passion for exploring new cities, and I always try to see the true heart and soul of a city by skipping the typical, crowded tourist attractions and instead visiting the sights and neighborhoods that are beloved by locals.
Before I was able to discover Harrisburg like a local, though, I had to find a place to stay. The thought of searching for a last-minute hotel may be stressful for some people, but I’m never worried when I have to make last-minute travel plans because I know that HotelTonight always has a great selection of hotels available. Within minutes, I had booked a hotel room for that very night using HotelTonight’s website, and I was ready to head out and explore the historic town of Harrisburg.
Downtown Harrisburg is the business center of the city, so during the day it’s bustling with professionals hurrying to meetings or grabbing a quick bite to eat. This neighborhood offers so much more than just conferences and cubicles, though, as it’s considered the heart of the city. The Pennsylvania State Capitol is located downtown, as are a number of other historic, beautifully preserved buildings. Downtown also has a great selection of restaurants and shops, and this lively neighborhood is the perfect place to visit if you want to understand why locals love their city so much.
If you love history, architecture and beautiful natural landscapes, you won’t want to miss seeing Fort Hunter Mansion and Park during your time in Harrisburg. Once a wartime fort and later a private residence, Fort Hunter is now a preserved mansion and park. You can take a tour of the mansion, hike on the walking trails through the grounds, or do both. I opted for both of them, since I wanted to learn the history of the estate while also exploring the grounds for myself.
After learning that there is a National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, I knew I had to visit. I’m fascinated by the Civil War era, so I could have easily spent hours in this massive Civil War museum, which is comprised of 17 galleries. The museum itself holds roughly 24,000 objects related to the Civil War, from letters and manuscripts to photographs and artifacts. For anybody who loves American history, you shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the National Civil War Museum when you’re in Pennsylvania’s capital city.
The next morning, I decided to visit one of the locals’ favorite spots in the city – the Broad Street Market. This historic market is the oldest market house in the entire country, with its roots tracing back to 1860. Its history aside, it also happens to be a favorite among locals because of its fresh produce, meats and baked goods. There are dozens of vendors selling an eclectic array of products in the Broad Street Market, and I picked out a handful of fresh foods for lunch. After wandering through the aisles of this historic market, I understood why so many locals make it their go-to shopping destination for fresh foods.
With my picnic foods in tow, I made my way to Wildwood Park, an urban park located just outside of Harrisburg. This lake sanctuary and nature center is a beautiful outdoor space that offers great hiking trails and picnic spots. During my time in Wildwood Park, I came across many locals running, biking, bird watching and taking pictures of the pretty scenery. It’s always nice to get out of the city and enjoy the beauty of nature, and Wildwood Park is the perfect place to do just that. And since it’s a popular spot among locals, I really felt like visiting Wildwood Park gave me a great sense of what it would be like to live in Harrisburg.
I never expected to find myself in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but I am so glad I got the opportunity to take a last-minute trip to this capital city. Harrisburg isn’t as loud or as lively as other Pennsylvania cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but it has its own style and unique vibe, and it definitely doesn’t deserve to be overshadowed by these other cities. Harrisburg is rich in history and charm, and I’m grateful I was able to experience it for myself. My last-minute trip to Harrisburg wouldn’t have been as easy to plan without HotelTonight, though, because HotelTonight helped me find a great last-minute hotel room in the heart of the city. I know that I’ll be using HotelTonight for any spontaneous adventures I have in the future.